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Promoting Student Research
on Design Thinking and
New Professionals


Foundation Spotlight

Milton D. Hakel
SIOP Foundation President


I am delighted to announce the endowment of the Graen Fund within the SIOP Foundation.  The Graen Fund will support Graen Grants for Student Research on Design Thinking and New Professionals

Grant applications will be received for the first time in 2017, with the first award to be made in 2018.  If you will still be a graduate student in I-O in 2018 and working on a thesis or dissertation that investigates some facet of this topic, be sure to apply.  If your graduate student days are behind you, contribute to the Graen Fund—you will be promoting research on new professional knowledge workers, labor force entrants such as designers, marketers, engineers, managers, IT professionals, even I-O psychologists.

What is “design thinking?”  Gruber, de Leon, George, and Thompson (2015) define it thus: “By ‘design thinking,’ we refer to a human-centered approach to innovation that puts the observation and discovery of often highly nuanced, even tacit, human needs right at the forefront of the innovation process.  It considers not just the technological system constraints but also the sociocultural system context.”  They go on to contrast it with traditional business and traditional engineering approaches.  They provide many examples of how design thinking has been applied in both business and government innovations, and speculate about its application in the workplace.

Why focus on “new professional knowledge workers?”  Graen and Grace (2015) describe the dramatic changes that the millennial culture is bringing to workplaces: increasing competition to attract talented professionals coupled with growing challenges in retaining them beyond the first 2 years.  What has become clear is that professional knowledge workers are essential; they bring the creativity and innovation necessary to sustain organizations of all types.

This annual grant will be given to a graduate student in any country who has initiated but not yet completed an eligible master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation project.  Projects should focus specifically on conditions and practices related to applications in groups, organizations, or companies comprising new professional-level knowledge workers (NPKW). Projects may involve empirical research, theory, or application.  For example, how do new professional knowledge worker teams learn from each other? How may engagement of NPKW be enhanced? How can the selection of NPKW improve team performance? How do NPKW teams use design thinking to improve performance? How may HR team coaches improve leadership sharing among NPKW teams? What are the design relationships between levels in terms of leadership impact on NPKW?

The focal topic of the project may arise from any area of I-O psychology, organizational behavior, or human resources. Postdoctoral students and faculty members will not be eligible.  Projects should have a sound basis such that the proposal exhibits technical adequacy (including issues of internal validity, ecological validity), appropriate strong inference methodology, appropriately planned statistical analyses, theoretical rigor and soundness, and meaningful actual or potential application.  Inclusion of novel concepts, approaches, or methods is encouraged.

The Graen Fund has just been established, and its principal is $50,000.  It needs to grow; demand for research support will be far larger than can be met by an annual 4% yield, $2,000.  Pitch in your tax-deductible contribution.  Let’s double this endowment. 

Contribute or make a pledge at http://my.siop.org/Foundation/Donations

Your calls and questions to the SIOP Foundation are always welcome.  Join us in building the Graen Fund or any of the endowments. 

Milt Hakel, President mhakel@bgsu.edu (419) 819 0936

Rich Klimoski, Vice-President rklimosk@gmu.edu (703) 993 1828

Nancy Tippins, Secretary ntippins@executiveboard.com (864) 527 5956

Paul Thayer pthayer2@att.net (919) 467 2880

Leaetta Hough leaetta@msn.com (651) 227 4888

Adrienne Colella acolella@tulane.edu (504) 865 5308

Bill Macey wmacey9@gmail.com (847) 751 1409 


Graen, G. B., & Grace, M. 2015. New talent strategy: Attract, process, educate, empower, engage and retain the best. SHRM–SIOP White Paper. Retrieved from http://www.siop.org/Userfiles/Image/SHRM-SIOP_New_Talent_Strategy.pdf.

Gruber, M., deLeon, N., George, G., & Thompson, P. 2015. Managing by design. Academy of Management Journal, 58, 1–7. 

The SIOP Foundation
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